Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Man with a Price on His Head.

Today the Church celebrates Palm (or Passion) Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. Today's readings are hard to match for depth, drama and pathos, and though many people in the pew may gripe at having to stand (or, in many parishes, sit) through the long reading of the Passion, paying attention to the gripping story Matthew tells is worth the effort. In listening to and reflecting on Matthew's Passion this Palm Sunday, I found myself paying particularly close attention to the account of Judas' dealings with the Sanhedrin. I was most struck by Matthew's description of the thirty silver coins paid to Judas by the Sanhedrin and subsequently returned to them as "the value of a man with a price on his head." It's good to be reminded that Jesus of Nazareth was "a man with a price on his head." When we hear someone described thus, we tend to conclude that the person in question is dangerous; for instance, the words "a man with a price on his head" make me think of the 'wanted' posters you sometimes see at the post office, posters that detail the alleged crimes of a sought person and offer a cash reward for information leading to his capture. To the civil and religious authorities of first-century Palestine, Jesus was a dangerous man, so dangerous that a fairly large sum of money (large enough to buy a piece of land, anyway) could justifiably be spent to bring about his capture. Jesus remains a dangerous man today. Living out the message of love contained in the Gospels and internalizing the values contained in the Beatitudes is as radical a challenge today as it was nearly twenty centuries ago. As we enter into the mysteries of the coming days, we should try not to get so caught up in the 'how' of Jesus' death that we forget the 'why' of the event. The content of Jesus' message made him a person fit to be killed by those in power, "a man with a price on his head." Such was Jesus of Nazareth in first-century Palestine, and such he remains today. AMDG.


At March 24, 2005 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jos-Good news about Father Lyons in today's USA Today. Hope everything is okay. Are you checking your email?


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